An industrial-forklift driver reported only minor injuries Monday after a freight train collided with his machine near a construction site at 70th and State streets in Wauwatosa.
“It was a glancing blow, but he got lucky,” Wauwatosa Police Lt. Gerald Witkowski said.
The westbound Canadian Pacific Railway train was traveling about 30 mph when it struck the forklift, knocking off two approximately 4-foot-tall wheels from the machine, Witkowski said. The 54-year-old driver, an employee of Waukesha-based Kinateder Masonry Inc. whose name was not released Monday afternoon, complained of left hand and left hip pain at the scene but did not accept medical transport, Witkowski said.
Kinateder, a subcontractor for general contractor Lunda Construction Co., Black River Falls, is working on the estimated $1.5 million 70th Street stone bridge replacement south of the railroad tracks, said Joe Marks, Wauwatosa city construction engineer. The project started in September and is expected to reach completion in June.
The worker, Witkowski said, was returning to the construction site with a load of rock and got trapped between the crossing arms as the train approached. He said the train horn alerted the driver to his situation.
Jim Kinateder, safety director for the masonry firm, only would say the company is completing a formal internal review and is unaware of any ongoing external investigations.
According to reports from the scene, Witkowski said, it is unknown whether the driver had time to move off the tracks before both the crossing arms blocked him in.
“The gate behind him closed,” he said, “but he may have been able to just drive forward.”
An investigation into the accident is ongoing, Witkowski said. He said he expected the worker would be cited for failure to obey a traffic signal, an offense that carried an $88.80 fine.
Marks said he did not expect the accident would affect the project.
“I don’t think this will cause any delays,” he said, “and we’ll still complete the project this summer.”